HRH The Princess Royal’s visit to Dubai highlights importance of seafarer welfare and role of women

Princesse Anne visits DP World Pavilion in Expo City, Dubai, UAE on March 1, 2024. The Mission to Seafarers/Christophe Viseux

The vital role of seafarer welfare services in the United Arab Emirates and the importance of women in the maritime industry were celebrated by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, the President of The Mission to Seafarers, on her visit to Dubai.

Her Royal Highness took part in a number of engagements during her visit, which began with a tour of DP World’s Jebel Ali Port. This was followed by a conference on seafarer welfare, jointly hosted by The Mission to Seafarers (MtS) DP World and WISTA UAE, in conjunction with Stephenson Harwood. The day concluded with a celebratory dinner at the One&Only Royal Mirage Hotel, attended by many leading supporters and potential sponsors of the Mission.

At Jebel Ali Port, the Princess was given a tour of Box Bay, an innovative solution for handling containers. Jebel Ali Port is one of the world’s top ten largest container ports in the world and the busiest port in the Middle East. Technological solutions such as Box Bay will play an important role improving safety, speed, and energy efficiency in the movement of containers.

Her Royal Highness met with the Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem. The Princess went on to visit DP World Headquarters, where she also met several members of the MtS Dubai-based welfare team, who explained more about their work to support seafarers calling at ports in the UAE.

The Princess then joined a conference on Women in Shipping and Seafarers’ Welfare, held at the DP World Expo Centre. The event featured two panels, the first on seafarer wellbeing and increasing female participation in shipping, and the second on attracting and retaining the next generation of female seafarers.

The Princess delivered a speech to delegates, where she highlighted the contribution that women can make in tackling the global crew shortage and the importance of ensuring that women in shipping are listened to and supported. The Princess also met with WISTA UAE Ambassadors, including Rania Tadros, President of WISTA UAE and Managing Partner of Stephenson Harwood in Dubai, as well as other members of the MtS Welfare team in Dubai.

The day concluded with a dinner at the One&Only Royal Mirage Hotel for senior leaders from across the shipping industry and the wider business community, as well as the British Ambassador and the Consul General. Her Royal Highness spoke of the work of the Mission to Seafarers in Dubai and globally, reminding guests how much we continue to depend on seafarers, and how they in turn need our sustained support. The Revd Canon Andrew Wright, Secretary General of the MtS, thanked attendees for their support for the vital work of the Mission in the UAE.

This Princess’s day of engagements was organised by the Mission to Seafarers and made possible with the support and assistance of DP World, and the sponsorship of V.Group, and Oldendorff Carriers for the evening reception and dinner.

Speaking after the event, Andrew Wright, Secretary-General of The Mission to Seafarers, said: “Today’s visit by our President, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, has shone a deserved spotlight on the longstanding service of The Mission To Seafarers in the UAE. We have had a presence here since 1962 where our work included ‘the Flying Angel’, the first floating seafarers’ centre which operated in the Fujairah Anchorage, and for many years we were known as the Angel Appeal.

“Today, our welfare team visit ships in all major ports across the country, and we are deeply grateful to Her Royal Highness for recognising the crucial work that our team delivers every day.”

“Significant advances have been made in seafarer welfare in the UAE and we are grateful to everyone that has played a part in this, from our volunteers and supporters to the government and maritime authorities. The UAE is a globally important shipping hub, and we are optimistic that we can move forward together, deepening our cooperation, delivering world-leading welfare services for all seafarers, and strengthening the spirit of partnership between the UAE and the UK.”

“Today’s schedule also highlighted the growing prominence of women in the shipping sector in the UAE, and WISTA UAE does a wonderful job of encouraging women to pursue a maritime career and championing the role that women can and do play in our sector. The presence of HRH The Princess Royal further endorsed the important role that women play in business today. We also saw the technological advances at DP World’s Jebel Ali Port, which highlighted the remarkable innovations that are transforming the shipping sector for the better.”

DP World Group Chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said: “We are delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Jebel Ali, our flagship port and the gateway for more than 80 shipping services each week. Since it was established in 1962 in the UAE, the Jebel Ali International Seafarers Centre has been at the heart of our port and continues to serve seafarers with the support of the country’s rulers. We take immense pride in providing a home away from home for seafarers, whose critical work connects the world and creates new possibilities for billions of people.”

René Kofod-Olsen, CEO of V.Group, commented: “We all know that, whilst extremely rewarding, a career at sea can be hard for those men and women who spend months away from their families, often in tough conditions. The Mission to Seafarers is there to make their lives a little easier and we, at V., welcome the work that they do for our friends and colleagues on the high seas, and their families. It therefore gives me great pleasure to be able to support the Mission to Seafarers at their celebration here in the UAE, and to welcome Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal once again to Dubai to meet seafarers and hear of the important work the Mission has carried out in this important region for over 60 years.”

Rania Tadros, President of WISTA UAE and Partner at Stephenson Harwood LLP, Dubai office, said: “It was truly an honour for WISTA UAE to join forces with the Mission to Seafarers and DP World, supported by Stephenson Harwood, for this significant event to discuss the invaluable contributions of female seafarers to global trade. Prioritising their welfare, we are dedicated to ensuring their well-being and fostering greater female participation in the maritime sector.

“This event also marked a significant milestone as WISTA UAE signed Memorandums of Understanding with both the Mission to Seafarers and the Nautical Institute to further support individuals throughout the maritime industry.”